December 8, 2017, 10:22 pm
Here's the thing. I'm about to tell you one of my most shameful secrets: I used to be a fundamentalist Christian, Rush Limbaugh-quoting Republican.
There, I've said it. Man, that's a weight off my chest.
First, I became a Christian, diving in headlong and wholeheartedly. You can read about it in my book, Deadly Vows. Which, apparently, is cheaper in hardback than it is in Kindle version now:
Anyway, once I was a Christian, I fell for the two-pronged demon that is the sole recruiting tool for the Republican Party: Abortion and Gay-bashing. Abortion is murder, I was told, and homosexuality is anti-God and the way the gay agenda sucks people (literally) into the pit of hell.
So, without giving a thought about what the Bible actually said about poor people, the sick, the underprivileged, gay people or how women were supposed to be treated, I dove headfirst into Republican propaganda. Before I knew it, I was bashing gays (verbally, not literally, though I'm not sure the distinction matters), suppressing women, because men are supposed to be the bosses, and espousing the virtues of supply-side economics.
But around 1999, I started questioning things. I'd been a Christian for about 10 years by that point, always in a leadership position, including pastor, which is what I was in '99. I had read the Bible, cover-to-cover, more than two dozen times, and I was responsible for the theological training of literally millions of people through my ghost writing efforts for highly-paid televangelists.
One day, I was telling someone not to do something (the years that have passed since then have clouded my memory to the specifics of what it was), and I heard a voice in my head. Call it my conscience. Call it God. Call it mystical fairies. Whatever. I heard a voice. Clear as day, the voice said this to me: "You're a hypocrite. You're telling this guy to not do something that you really want to do. At least he's honest enough to do it."
Again, I forget what it was. But I'm sure it wasn't nearly as deviant as whatever you have in your head right now. But that voice woke me up. And it immediately called to mind a verse spoken by Jesus in the New Testament: "You have heard it said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28)
Jesus was basically saying it's the thought that counts; the action is just a symptom of the disease. So right then and there, I made a decision. If God was real, If he really possessed the power to change people, he would have to change me.
"God," I said, unironically. "I'm going to do whatever I want to do from now on. If you don't want me doing something, and you're real, you're going to have to stop me. Because I will not be a hypocrite. You want honesty? Integrity? I'm going to be honest and do whatever comes into my head to do. If you're God and you don't want me doing something, stop me from doing it."
And from that day to this, I have never wavered from that.
I said all that to say this: Fundamentalist Christianity is fundamentally dishonest. It is composed of people who want to do all the bad shit they preach against, but who don't do it—not because they don't want to, but because they fear the eternal punishment of a pedantic god who would make humans roast in hell for eternity for something as fucking dumb as sexually desiring a person of the opposite sex. Or the same sex. Or some permutation that couldn't possibly have been predicted in a document written thousands of years ago.
The point is, I think, that fear drives Christianity. Fear of hell. Fear of displeasing God. Fear of being caught thinking the things people can't help thinking. And the Republican party is driven by the same fear.
"By God, if Roy Moore doesn't get elected to the Senate in Alabama, we will lose the majority and then abortion will remain legal, the queers will take over everything, the Muslims will push the Jews out of Israel and our rich donors might have to give up some of their money to help the poor and the sick!" So the Republican Party throws its support behind a racist, homophobic, xenophobic hate monger, who, by the way, likes to fuck 14-year-old girls. They don't support him because they like him. They support him because they fear losing their majority more than they fear God.
I don't fear God, by the way. I have a deep-seated hope that there is a God and that he rewards those who try their best to follow that God, but fear is reserved for people who are terrible. I don't want my kids to fear me, and if God really is our father, I don't think he wants us to fear him either. Don't go quoting Bible verses to me. Believe me, I've read it. You misunderstand and misquote it, but I'm not about to get into that debate here.
Al Franken, a rising star in the Democratic party, was pressured to resign from Democrats who feared that his past of allegedly disrespecting women compromised his moral authority to craft policy. And, realizing that pressure was legitimate, Franken resigned from the senate and threw away a very good chance at becoming the president. Even though he denied all the sexual allegations against him. He realized that the party he loves and the women he claims to serve were all disgusted and hurt by the allegations, and rather than foment more of the same, he removed himself from the picture.
Contrast that with Donald Trump, the president who has been accused of raping more than a dozen women, who is being litigated now for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl, who himself proclaimed that if a woman didn't want to have sex with him, he could convince them to by simply "grabbing them by the pussy," because he was famous. The Republican party supports him wholeheartedly. And Roy Moore, who, as I mentioned above, likes to fuck barely-teen girls. The GOP not only supports him, but they're throwing a ton of money into his campaign.
And there you have the fundamental moral divide: One party, realizing that even the appearance of supporting the sexual abuse of women is too much to bear, loses a powerful senator. The other party, realizing the loss of power is too much to bear, not only harbors, but encourages its sexual predators.
As a former Fundamentalist, I'm disgusted. As a former Republican, I'm appalled. The Republican Party is the party of Nazi protests, neo-fascist dictators, collusion with Russia, foisting cash on the rich at the expense of the poor, denial of health care to the needy, protecting the gun manufacturers at the expense of thousands of victims.
The Democratic party is the party of falling on the sword instead of risking the perpetuation of fear on the behalf of women, of caring for the poor and the needy, of healing the sick, of opposing the encroachment of foreign powers on American politics.
The choice has never been more clear.
Democrats are now the party of Jesus. They always have been, but at least now the distinction is clear.